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Full text of "Memorial Day, an interpretation : an address before the John W. Dunham Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at Wilson, North Carolina, May 11, 1909"

Memorial Day 

An Interpretation 



An Address 

By 

R. D. W. Connor 

May 11, 1909 



MEMORIAL DAY 

AN INTERPRETATION 



AN ADDRESS 

BY 

R. D. W. CONNOR 

BEFORE 

THE JOHN W. DUNHAM CHAPTER OF THE 

UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE 

CONFEDERACY 



AT WILSON, NORTH CAROLINA 
MAY II, 1909 



FDWABD8 4 BROUGHTON PRINTING CO.. RAIEIGM, N. C. 



Printed and Distributed by 

HENRY G. CONNOR 

as a Tribute 

to the Soldiers of the Confederacy 

from Wilson County, 

North Carolina 



DEDICATED 
TO THE 

MEN OF WILSON COUNTY 

SOLDIERS 

IN 

"THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES" 

1861-1885 

In war, brave and faithful 

In peace, loyal and law-abiding 

Patriotic, always 



V 
W 



"WHO SAVES HIS COUNTRY SAVES HIMSELF, SAVES ALL 
THINGS, AND ALL THINGS SAVED DO BLESS HIM. WHO LETS 
HIS COUNTRY DIE LETS ALL THINGS DIE, DIES HIMSELF 
IGNOBLY, AND ALL THINGS DYING CURSE HIM."— BENJAMIN 
H. HILL. 



Memorial Day: An Interpretation 



In the midst of an age inspired with the spirit of a living 
Present, and cheered with the hopefulness of those who 
fight and win, we pause to-day to commune for a brief 
moment with a Past that is dead, and to pay tribute to the 
memory of those who fought and lost. Truly a paradoxical 
situation ! And yet, perhaps, not so very paradoxical after 
all, for these Memorial Day ceremonies have a much deeper 
meaning than may at first appear. The Past is dead, and 
yet it lives ; our fathers lost, and yet they won. And to-day 
we come to review not the dead, but the living Past ; to 
commemorate not the defeat, but the victory of the van- 
quished. Looking back over the Past we see in the Amer- 
ican Civil War, underneath all the blare of bugles and the 
roar of cannon, the conflict of two great ideas. Behind the 
Stars and Stripes of Lincoln and Grant we see arrayed the 
idea of Nationality ; behind the Stars and Bars of Davis 
and Lee, the idea of sovereign Statehood. Looking out into 
the Future we see the day when the historian, coming to 
pronounce his judgment on the results of that conflict, will 
declare that in the end both ideas were triumphant, for out 
of that struggle came a more perfect and a more enduring 
Union, and out of it came a freer and a nobler State. Now 
happily no longer in conflict, State and Union move along 
their destined paths to a common heritage of liberty and 
truth and justice for all mankind. In this happy consum- 
mation both Federal and Confederate have their allotted 
parts to play. 

The Confederate soldier, as I have said, represented the 
idea of sovereign Statehood. In defense of this idea thou- 
sands of men died on the field of battle; and for it to-day 



G Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 

other thousands rejoice in an opportunity to live. What 
then is this thing for which men are so willing to give their 
lives ? What do we mean by the State ? By the State I 
mean something more than acres of land and millions of 
people ; something more than constitutions and laws, than 
governors and legislatures, than courts and constables and 
prisons. I mean something more than material wealth and 
political power. The State of North Carolina is not the 
fifty-two thousand square miles of territory lying between 
Virginia and South Carolina, the Atlantic and the Blue 
Ridge ; nor is it the two millions of people whose homes 
are here. The State is not to be found in the capitol at 
Raleigh, nor in the court-houses of our ninety-eight counties. 
Soil and climate, field and forest, rivers and mountains, mills 
and factories, cottages and mansions, schools and churches, — 
all these are but outward and visible forms of the real, living 
State. The first white men who settled on our shores three 
hundred years ago found the same fifty-two thousand square 
miles of territory stretching out before them ; the same rivers 
pouring their waters into the same sea; the same mountain 
ranges lifting their lofty peaks up into the same blue sky. 
They found forests growing then as they grow now. They 
cleared fields and built houses. They too had a constitu- 
tion and laws, a governor and a law-making body. All these 
things they had in substance as we have them now. They 
had the possibilities of a State, but they did not have the 
State itself, much less did they have the State of North 
Carolina to which we acknowledge allegiance. If these 
things constituted the real State, it would be but a dead thing, 
the same yesterday, to-day and forever. 

But the State is not a dead thing. It is a living, breathing, 
changing organism, never to-day what it was yesterday, and 
never to be to-morrow what it is to-day. The State of 1909 



Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 7 

is not the State of 1809. Every generation in the Past has 
added its contribution, modifying its character and changing 
its ideals ; and every generation in the Future must con- 
tribute something for good or ill. As Dr. Mclver used to 
say : "Sometimes we think it is a pity that a good man 
who has learned to be of service to his fellows should be 
called out of the world. So sometimes we may think about 
an enterprising and useful generation ; but after all the 
generations of men are but relays in civilization's march 
on its journey from savagery to the millennium. Each 
generation owes it to the Past and to the Future that no 
previous worthy attainment or achievement, whether of 
thought or deed or vision, shall be lost. It is also under 
the highest obligation to make at least as much progress on 
the march as has been made by any generation that has 
gone before." In the contributions of all the generations 
that have gone before us, and in the contributions that we 
shall make to the generations that shall come after us, we 
find the real State. 

Let us suppose it were possible to blot out of our life 
all the story of the Past ; all memory of the men and events, 
the thoughts and ideals that have made us what we are to- 
day ; all record of the purposes and the sufferings of those 
who planted the first colony on the banks of the Albemarle ; 
all knowledge of their long struggle to rescue that region 
from savage beasts and barbarous men ; all memory of the 
ambitions and the ideals that inspired them in their battles 
for independence and self-government ; all record of their 
plans and labors to build here a free, happy and prosperous 
commonwealth, all the story of their heroic struggle to main- 
tain its sovereignty and to defend it from invasion ; all 
knowledge of the motives and purposes that nerved them in 
their efforts to reconstruct it on a broader and a nobler plan ; 



8 Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 

suppose we should lose out of our life all our fathers' ideals 
of liberty and law, all memory of their successes and fail- 
ures, their hopes and ambitions, their customs, traditions 
and history, — what would we have left of the State which they 
founded ? A vain, hollow, empty thing, dead materialism, 
not the State which commands our allegiance and our serv- 
ice. That State we find in the hearts and minds of the 
people ; in all they have been in the Past ; in all they are 
in the Present ; in all they hope to be in the Future ; in the 
memories of the men and events by which in peace and in 
war, in the council chamber and on the battle-field, we have 
won our place among the people of the American Union ; 
in the ideals upon which the State was founded by the 
fathers, and in the aspirations that stir in us a desire to serve 
the State and worthily to maintain what they have nobly 
secured. 

Such was the Confederate soldier's conception of the State, 
and as it was his duty and privilege to defend it so it is 
ours to preserve and hand it down unimpaired to his children 
forever. For this purpose, that we may the better fulfill this 
duty and annually pass in review what the State has been 
in the Past, consider what it is in the present, and forecast 
what we shall make it in the Future, we have set apart this 
Memorial Day and dedicated it to the study of the State and 
her history. 

The first purpose of Memorial Day, then, is to keep fresh 
in our minds what the State has been in the Past, and surely 
it would be hard for one who loves his State to find a more 
important or a more pleasing task. A generation ago it was 
a favorite boast with us in the South that we had been too 
busy making history to give thought to writing it. But when 
we come to think of the State as the Confederate poldier 
thought of it, we shall understand that as each generation 



Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 9 

is under obligations to make at least as much progress on 
the march of civilization as any generation that has gone 
before, so also it is under no less an obligation to preserve 
the record of its progress for the benefit of generations that 
shall come after; for as history is the foundation of all 
knowledge, and the measure of all progress, so a failure to 
record the events of history would result in setting each 
generation back to the point from which its predecessor 
started, and would close to posterity the source of its richest 
treasures. Modesty is no doubt a commendable trait in the 
character of any people, but a sober, reasonable and intelli- 
gent pride in the achievements of one's country is the best 
incentive to public virtue and real patriotism; and a people 
who have not the pride to record their history will not long 
have the virtue to make history that is worth recording. 

But I speak now of a State-pride that is sober, reasona- 
ble and intelligent, for certainly there is nothing either pa- 
triotic or elevating in that foolish, extravagant and boastful 
pride that provoked Kipling's famous prayer : 

"If drunk with sight of power, we loose 
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe — 
Such boastings as the Gentiles use, 
Or lesser breeds without the law — 



For frantic boast and foolish word, 
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord! " 



Such a pride develops neither virtue nor patriotism. It 
only excites the ridicule of the world, and brings shame on 
the good name of the State. It places false values on 
unworthy things, and degrades the character of the people. 
It produces the self-contentment of "provincial complacency," 
and destroys manly vigor and ambition. It is to be avoided 
as the worst enemy of true State-pride. Rather let us use 
Memorial Day to cultivate a sober pride of country, which 



10 Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 

holding itself in proper reserve ever stands guard over the true 
honor and welfare of the State ; a reasonable pride of country, 
which knowing the difference between the good and the evil, 
the true and the false, the beautiful and the ugly in the 
life of the State will accept the one and reject the other; 
an intelligent pride of country, which desiring to serve the 
State, will follow the injunction of England's great lau- 
reate : 

"Love thou thy land, with love far-brought 
From out the storied Past, and used 
Within the Present, but transfused 
Thro' future time by power of thought." 

.Nothing will produce better results among a self-governing 
people than the cultivation of such a pride in the achieve- 
ments of their country. The great events in the history of 
such a country are the achievements of the people themselves. 
A Russian czar may issue his decree bestowing the privilege 
of a free Parliament on his subjects and is entitled to claim 
all the credit as his own ; but when an American Congress 
promulgates a Declaration of Independence, or an American 
president emancipates three millions of slayes, it is not the 
Congress nor the President, but the people themselves who 
speak. The Confederate soldier who answered the call of 
his country in 1861, and through four long years of war 
wrote his unsurpassed record of devotion to duty, of courage 
in the field, of endurance in suffering, of patience in defeat, 
of fidelity in tempation, of loyalty in the hour of trial, won 
for himself a place in history beside the imperial legionary 
of Caesar and the old guardsman of Napoleon ; but the glory 
of the Roman legionary and the glory of the French guards- 
man belong to them alone, the glory of the Confederate sol- 
dier belongs to his country. So too the great men in a Repub- 
lic of self-governing people spring from among the people 



Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 11 

themselves, and in a Republic no man is counted great by 
the accident of birth, but only by reason of eminent services 
to his fellow countrymen. Every man feels, therefore, that 
what other men have been and done, he himself may be and 
do. The fame of a Caesar or a Napoleon is his own ■ but 
the fame of Lincoln and Davis, of Lee and Grant, of Mc- 
Clellan and Jackson, belongs to the American people. When, 
therefore, we turn aside from our daily affairs to commem- 
orate the great events in our history, it is but an endeavor 
on our part to take an inventory of the best that we ourselves 
have been able to contribute to the making of the State; and 
when we offer tribute to the great men of the State, we simply 
pay tribute to the highest types that we ourselves have been 
able to develop, for our own character is reflected in the char- 
acter of the men whose memories we revere, whose lives we 
study, and whose virtues we admire. 

This, then, is the meaning of Memorial Day as it relates 
to the State of the Past. From this study of our con- 
tributions to the State of the Past we shall draw experience 
and inspiration for our contributions to the State of the 
Present. For, in a free State, not only the demands of 
patriotism, but also the qualifications of good citizenship 
require that those who control and direct the affairs of the 
State shall be familiar with the ideas and events that have 
shaped its destiny. In such a State every citizen is a direc- 
tor in its affairs, and from time to time is called upon to 
decide great questions that will affect the welfare of the 
remotest posterity. In his hands he holds the fate of politi- 
cal parties, he controls public policies, he formulates social 
creeds, he solves educational problems, he detenu- ne-s great 
industrial issues; — in a word, he forms public opinion, and 
in free States public opinion rules politicians, governs social 
conduct, regulates industrial affairs, and shapes the desti- 



12 Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 

nies of the people. This much at least every citizen must 
pay for the privilege of his citizenship, and if he is a patri- 
otic citizen, intent upon the conscientious performance of his 
duty, he needs as the foundation stone of his citizenship, a 
knowledge of the Past. 

But men say, the Past is dead ; and we are practical men 
who live in the Present. What need have we for the dead 
Past? The Past is not dead. "The roots of the Present 
lie deep in the Past, and nothing in the Past is dead to 
the man who would understand how the Present came to be 
what it is." The Present was born of the Past and is the 
parent of the Future. Every problem which this prad iea! man 
is called upon to solve comes to him out of the Past, moulded 
into shape by its influence and charged with its spirit. If 
your problem be to choose between candidates for public oince, 
can you not choose the better for a knowledge of their Past ? 
If it be to remodel an institution, can you not perform your 
task more intelligently if you know how the institution was 
formed and whence it grew ? If it be to formulate a social 
creed, can you not proceed more wisely if you are familiar with 
the fifty social creeds that have arisen and vanished before ? 
If it be to determine an educational policy, can you not act 
more advisedly after investigating an hundred policies that 
have been put to the test? If it be to settle an industrial 
issue, can you not decide it more safely if you know its 
origin and the history of its growth ? To put these ques- 
tions is to answer them. And yet how often do even wise 
men overlook this truth, and consulting their invention and 
rejecting their experience, blunder along in their blindness 
until they find that every step taken in advance seems to be 
hurled back by some silent and unnoticed power, and their 
enthusiasm gives way to despair and their hopes fade into 
recollections. Frederic Harrison puts a very pertinent and 



Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 13 

practical question, then, when he asks : "What is this unseen 
power which seems to undo the best human efforts, as if it 
were some overbearing weight against which no man can 
struggle ? What is this ever-acting force which seems to re- 
vive the dead, to restore what we destroy, to renew forgotten 
watchwords, exploded fallacies, discredited doctrines, and con- 
demned institutions; against which enthusiasm, intellect, 
truth, high purpose, and self-devotion seem to beat them- 
selves to death in vain ? It is the Past. It is the accumulated 
wills and works of all mankind around us and before us. 
It is civilization. It is that power which to understand is 
strength, which to repudiate is weakness." 1 

Surely no people in all the history of the world have had 
more reason to be impressed with these truths than we Ameri- 
cans of the Southern States. We have seen a triumphant 
people, flushed with victory and drunk with power, attempt 
to remodel every institution of these states in defiance of all 
the lessons of ten centiiries of English history. We have 
seen them erect a political structure that turned back the 
wheel of time a thousand years. We have seen them formu- 
late a social creed that flew into the face of all civilization. 
We have seen them plan an industrial scheme that gave the 
lie to the teachings of history throughout the ages. And we 
have seen them all, institutions, political structure, social 
ideals, and industrial schemes, though supported by the arms 
of a victorious nation, rise in the night only to fall crushed 
and destroyed in the day, leaving as their contributions to the 
State naught but the 

". . . . sword and fire, 
Eed ruin, and the breaking up of Jaws." 

Crushed and destroyed, not because they were evil, evil 
though they were, but destroyed because they were not born 



1 Frederic Harrison's Meaning of History has been a fruitful source of 
suggestion in the preparation of this address. 



14 Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 

of the Past. The best work of some of the truest reformers 
in the history of the world has not been exempt from a similar 
fate. Indeed, the whole path of civilization is strewn with the 
wrecks of institutions, social and religious creeds, political 
and industrial schemes, to which millions looked for the cure 
of all human ills and upon which they founded their hopes 
of human happiness — wrecked because their roots were not 
sunk deep in the teachings of the Past. The Past is the 
conservative, steadying, guiding power in the Present; and 
the Present without the influence of the Past would be as 
unsteady in its motions, as helpless to guide its course, and 
as uncertain of its goal as a ship without sails, ballast or 
rudder. ISTo pilot is fit to be entrusted with control of a ship 
who is ignorant of his chart, and no crew who are indifferent 
to their chart need hope to reach their haven safely : so no 
man is fit to be entrusted with control of the Present who is 
ignorant of the Past, and no people who are indifferent to 
their Past need hope to make their Future great. 

For this State of the Future Memorial Day has a yet 
deeper meaning. Paradoxical as this may seem, it is yet 
necessarily true. All our aims and ambitions and hopes look 
to the Future. That State-pride which the study of the Past 
cultivates, is a meaningless vanity if it does not inspire in 
us high and splendid ideals for the State of the Future. 
That equipment for service which such study develops, has 
but little purpose if it does enable us the better to realize those 
ideals. If we shall find that the contributions made by our 
fathers to the State of the Past were good, shall we not 
resolve that our contributions to the State of the Future shall 
be better ? If we shall find that they have left to us a noble 
heritage, shall we not determine to leave to our children a 
yet richer legacy ? If we shall find that they were ready 
without thought of self to bear the burdens of the State and 



Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 15 

equipped to do its service, shall we falter because we too 
have burdens to bear and services to perform ? No State ever 
called her people into her service with greater confidence in 
their spirit of willingness and determination than North 
Carolina in 1861 ; and no people ever responded with a more 
absolute forgetfulness of self in their duty to theii country. 

In like manner the State of the Future is calling us into 
her service; and shall we not respond in like spirit? JSTo 
invading foe threatens us with a foreign tyranny, no bugle 
calls us to arms in her defense ; but there are other tyrannies 
none the less oppressive, other duties none the less important. 
There is the tyranny of ignorance, the tyranny of poverty, 
the tyranny of a backward industrial life, the tyranny of 
prejudice, the tyranny of intolerance. There are schools to 
be supported, resources to be developed, fields to be cultivated, 
prejudices to be overthrown, truth and justice to be estab- 
lished : — all great problems that have come to us out of the 
Past. What then has the Past to teach us with regard to 
their solution ? 

The Past will teach us that since the dawn of civilization, 
Ignorance has contributed nothing to the progress of man- 
kind or the amelioration of his condition. Hence we shall 
learn that the supreme duty of the State of the Future is the 
education of her children: — not some of her children, but 
every child of them, without regard to its sex or condition, 
its wealth or poverty, its race or color. Ignorance is no re- 
specter of persons. It chooses its agents regardless of their 
race, color or previous condition of servitude. It is thor- 
oughly democratic. It strikes through the ruler in the seat 
of power; it strikes through the money king on his throne 
of gold ; it strikes through the beggar on the street. It is as 
blind as justice itself. The scholar in his study, the man 
with the hoe, the banker and the merchant, the manufacturer 



16 Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 

and the mechanic, the editor and the teacher, the lawyer and 
the farmer, all feel the deadening effects of its blows, and 
everywhere they fall they leave behind a trail of poverty and 
failure and suffering. It flaunts itself in our faces to-day 
with all the arrogance of long entrenched power, and dares 
us to more terrific battles, and invites us to more glorious 
victories than were ever won by the Confederate soldier. 
And as the State of the Past called to our fathers in the 
sixties, so the State of the Future is calling to us to-day: 
"Bring up all your corps of truth and light and power. Open 
all your batteries and sound the onset, for the conflict is now 
on with the enemy. The powers of ignorance and darkness 
are arrayed against us, and the fight must be to a finish." 

The Past will teach us that material resources — unlimited 
water-power, boundless forests, inexhaustible minerals, fertile 
soil, and genial climate — contribute nothing to the wealth or 
the power of a people who do not know how to use them. 
Gettysburg and Appomattox taught this lesson with fearful 
emphasis. For behind the armies of the South were neglected 
fields, unopened mines, impassable highways, unexplored for- 
ests, and rivers that sent their waters unfettered to the sea; 
behind the armies of the North were farms that intelligent 
labor had converted into blooming gardens, rivers that had 
been harnessed to the spindle and the loom, mines that had 
been made to yield up their secret treasures, forests that gave 
their timbers to be fashioned into a thousand useful forms, 
and great arteries of trade and commerce that carried life 
and vigor into the uttermost parts of the country. In 1865, 
the armies of Lee and Johnston surrendered, not to the 
armies of Grant and Sherman who faced them on the fields 
of Virginia and Carolina, but to the mills and factories 
that dotted the river banks of New England, to the open 
mines that poured their riches into the laps of California and 



Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 17 

Pennsylvania, to the railroads and highways that brought 
the produce of the world to the doors of New York and 
Chicago and Philadelphia. History teaches no lesson more 
forcibly than the lesson that Providence does not long tolerate 
a people who neglect the gifts of Nature. And so in the 
State of the Future, before we can come into our inheritance, 
we too must learn how to harness the waters of our streams to 
the wheels of mills and factories, how to go down into the 
bowels of the earth and bring up the hidden treasures, how to 
penetrate the depths of the forests and take out the timbers 
with foresight and intelligence, how to tunnel the mountain 
and bridge the gorge for great railroads and highways of com- 
merce and travel, — in a word, we must learn how to use the 
natural wealth that a generous Creator has poured into our 
lap, or become the hewers of wood and drawers of water 
for those who do know how to use them. 

The Past will teach us that no State ever grew strong or 
prosperous except through the strength and prosperity of the 
great toiling masses of its people. Hence we shall learn that 
in the State of the Future, the eighty per cent of her people 
who cultivate the soil, and not the twenty per cent who live 
in towns, will determine her power and wealth. The great 
economic problem of this State, then, as Mr. Poe puts it, 
is not the building of towns and cities, but the increasing of 
the earning capacity of her average farm at least $500 a year, 
thus giving to it a productive power equal to the farms in 
other sections of our common country. In order to accom- 
plish this, as Dr. Knapp says : "We must rebuild our wasted 
soils ; restore the valuable woods to our forests ; construct 
economic and enduring highways ; substitute in the country 
substantial structures of brick or stone for our frail tene- 
ment of wood ; the meadows must send their fragrance to the 
valleys ; the fruit trees must cover the hilltops with bloom ; 
the schoolhouse, the church and the factory must gladden the 



18 Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 

view from every summit. We must build a more complete 
and enduring rural civilization where strong and vigorous 
manhood is reared and where the purest and rarest forms of 
womanhood are in bloom. * * * Every idle acre of land 
must be made to produce ; every idle man and woman must 
be drafted into the army of toil ; extravagance and waste must 
cease; intelligence must dominate matter; and universal 
vigor must take up the tasks of general frailty." 1 Our in- 
dustrial Lees and Jacksons must lead their armies of toilers 
against the foes that are beating back from the rural sections 
the comforts and conveniences and pleasures of modern life. 
The Past will teach us that "the supreme test of natural as 
well as individual virtue is not prowess in combat, but what 
the victor does to the vanquished after the conquest is over, 
what the strong do to the weak who have fallen under their 
power." In the State of the Future we shall have to deal 
with a weaker race who have fallen under our power, and as 
sure as there is a God of Nations who holds the fate of 
States in His hands, so surely will He call us to an account 
of our guardianship of this child of Nature. Let us beware 
lest in our dealings with him pride and prejudice and pas- 
sion shall usurp the place of kindness and sympathy and 
justice. He knows but little of the checks and balances of 
human society who does not know that if the strong do not 
pull up the weak, the weak must pull down the strong; and 
if we must err, far better for us if we err on the side of 
justice. For, says a distinguished judge, "on our capacity 
to do justice to them [the negroes] in private dealing as well 
as in public action depend in a large degree our character and 
future life as a people. For the doing of injustice is more 
direful in its effects on the doer, than on the sufferer. He is 
no patriot who does not stand up for the right of every man 



1 Dr. Seaman A. Knapp in an address before the North Carolina 
Teachers' Assembly at Charlotte, 1908. 



Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 19 

"to have the just reward of his labor, to have the right of trial 
for his life, his liberty and property under the guidance of 
the law of the land, who is not ready to breast any storm to 
see that there shall be one law for the weak and the strong." 1 
The Past will teach us that no State has ever survived the 
assaults of time that was not built on the solid corner stones of 
truth and justice and equality of opportunity for all men. 
We shall learn too that there can be no truth without free- 
dom of thought, no justice without freedom of discussion, no 
equality of opportunity without freedom of action. Every 
tyranny that has oppressed mankind since the beginning of 
history, whether it be the tyranny of autocracy, the tyranny 
of aristocracy, or the tyranny of democracy, nourished on 
intolerance of free thought, on suppression of free speech, 
and on denial of free action. In the State of the Future wc 
must set our faces like flint against every tendency to en- 
courage those servants of tyranny. We must learn to ex- 
pose every question affecting the welfare of the State to the 
searching light of free and full discussion, and to abide the 
judgment of the people. But we must learn also that hack- 
neyed oratory is not discussion, denunciation is not criticism, 
license is not freedom. We must learn that judgments ren- 
dered at the dictation of passion and prejudice are not likely 
to be "true and righteous altogether." We must learn that 
ideas are greater than persons, and principles more enduring 
than personalities. We must learn that as true liberty is 
liberty regulated by law, so nothing is more important to the 
people of a self-governing State than that stern and splendid 
regard for law which was the glory of Rome in her best days, 
and without which no people can be truly great or truly free. 
And, finally, we must learn that while eternal vigilance is 
the price of liberty, eternal agitation is not eternal vigilance. 



1 Judge C. A. Woods, of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, in an 
address before the North Carolina Bar Association, 1908. 



20 Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 

Not till we have taken these lessons to heart shall the door of 
opportunity be thrown wide open to every child of the State ; 
not till then shall Justice be enthroned in all the beauty of 
righteousness; and not till then shall "Truth, shining pa- 
tiently like a star, bid us advance and we will not turn aside." 

To educate the children of the State, to develop her re- 
sources, to revolutionize her industrial and agricultural sys- 
tems, to maintain her authority, to preserve her freedom, — 
these are great problems that have come to us out of the 
Past; to solve them is the work of the Future. We shall 
not solve them without the expenditure of much money and 
toil and sacrifice. But to this labor the State is calling her 
best sons, and shall we shrink from her call ? Consider the 
Confederate soldier. The one sentiment that overshadowed 
all others in his heart was devotion to his State. For the 
State he lived, and in her defense he went forth to die. He 
knew no duty above his duty to the State, and he coveted no 
honor save the honor of the State. No labor was too hard, 
no burden too heavy, no sacrifice too great in her behalf. 
When she called him into her service, he invented no excuse, 
he uttered no murmur, he asked no reward. Inspired by his 
pride in her achievements, he imagined no greater joy than 
to share in the brightness of her glory; and warmed by her 
love, he sought no other fate than to go down with her in the 
darkness of defeat. If in the same spirit we too shall answer 
the call of the State of the Future, we may rest assured that 
we shall not go down with her in the darkness of defeat, but 
that Ave shall rejoice with her in the brightness of her glory. 

Such, then, is that freer and nobler State that came trium- 
phant out of the conflict of the sixties. Out of that conflict 
came also, as I have said, a more perfect and a more endur- 
ing Union — a Union of States, not of sections ; of States 
sprung from a common source, created for a common pur- 
pose, and builded on a common foundation ; a Union of 



Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 21 

States bound together by the history and traditions of a com- 
mon Past, united in the work of a common Present, and 
destined to the glories of a common Future. For this Union, 
Memorial Day, whether it honors the memory of those who 
followed Lee or the memory of those who followed Grant, 
has its final and deepest meaning. We shall not come to 
the observance of Memorial Day in the right spirit if our 
purpose be to rekindle the fires of bitter memories or of 
sectional animosities. But rather let us come in that spirit 
which declares : "The sons will preserve and will mag- 
nify the fame of their fathers, but they will not foster or 

fight over again their feuds, since the fathers themselves 

long ago renounced rancor and dissolved differences 

We will filially honor the shades of our ancestors, but we will 

not cut ourselves among their tombs Our fathers 

fought out the questions which their fathers left unsettled. 
We recognize and rejoice in the settlement of those questions. 
But we are resolved that neither the charm of historical 
study, nor the passions, nor the pathos of poetry, nor the pious 
exaltation which shrines excite and monuments inspire shall 
to-day hold back Xorth and South from the new and noble 
obligations, and from the benign and brotherly competitions 
of this teeming time. Better a decade of love and peace than 
a cycle of the mutilations and of the memories of the Civil 
War." 1 

In such a spirit the Confederate soldier, after four long 
years of conflict, submitted to the judgment of the God of 
battles ; and in such a spirit the Nation will yet acknowledge 
the great debt which it owes to him. He fought the war in 
good faith, he laid down his arms in good faith, and he ac- 
cepted the result in good faith. ISTo apology for his course 
arose to his lips to belie his conscience ; no vain regret lin- 



*St. Clair McKelway, in an address before The Conference for Educa- 
tion in the South at Richmond, Va., 1903. 



22 Memorial Day: An Interpretation. 

gered in his heart to embitter his spirit. He turned from 
the battle-field to his civic duties feeling "malice toward 
none," but "charity for all" ; ready to lend his hands to the 
task of binding up the Nation's wounds ; and determined to 
contribute by voice and conduct toward establishing and cher- 
ishing a just and lasting peace between the torn and bleeding 
sections. Keeping always in view the harmony, peace and 
happiness of the whole country, joining in the desire of all 
good men everywhere to hush forever the passions and preju- 
dices of civil strife, disdaining to renounce his own faith or 
principles but willing to trust his vindicaton to 

"That flight of ages which are God's 
Own voice to justify the dead," 

he called on all sections of his country to ignore sectional 
issues, and to address themselves to the task of restoring the 
Union in heart and soul. The wisdom and prudence, the 
saneness and patience, the loyalty and patriotism which have 
characterized his course since the war, entitle him to a warm 
place in the Nation's heart forever. 

And, to-day, as we gather to do honor to his memory, shall 
we not resolve to follow his example and emulate his spirit ?' 
Let us bury forever the bitter memories, and the passions 
and the prejudices left in the wake of sectional strife, and 
join heart and soul with all throughout our common country 
who pay tribute to those, whatever banner they may have 
followed, who unselfishly answered the call of duty as God 
gave them to see and understand it. On this Memorial Day, 
dear to our hearts for the memories it brings, the gallant 
spirits of Federal and Confederate, who so freely gave of 
their best blood in the service of their country, call to us to 
give as freely of ourselves to our great reunited Nation, and 
in the service of that Nation to think the highest that is in us 
to think, to do the best that is in us to do, and to be the 
noblest that is in us to be.